Thanks to a partnership between the city of Alton and the Mission Consolidated School District, Alton finally has their own public library
Located in the library of MCISD’s Mission Collegiate High School at 605 S. Los Ebanos Blvd, Alton held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for their digital and traditional library Tuesday, Jan. 23.
To serve the community, the campus library will be open after hours weekdays from 5 through 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. The library will also provide a Digi-Tech lab, a computer lab with 24 computers that allows access to the public to more than 13,000 books to download and read outside the library.
According to Steve Peña, CEO of the City of Alton Development Corporation, Alton was originally looking into financing their own library through several grants four years ago.
“The original intent was to go out for grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to retrofit our 25,000 square foot warehouse in front of city hall into a library but the application was denied due to not having any usage data to show a need for a library,” Peña said.
From that rejection, the idea of a pilot library was born, Peña said.
“We saw this space at Collegiate was available and thought it would be ideal for a public library, Peña said. “We partnered with the district to do a two-year agreement to share the cost of the equipment, pay the staff to man it after hours and use the public library as a way to get usage data to redo the grants in two years.”
The funds from the library were around $443,000 and came from the Alton Chamber of Commerce, Alton CADC and through city funding. As part of the partnership, the city also paid for the school district to renew its membership with the online platform MyOn to provide the thousands of digital books to the community.
“Everything is going digitized, the school is issuing Chromebooks for students to do their homework, Peña said. “Paper is becoming a thing of the past so a lot of the homework is being sent to kids in their laptops but they may not have access to wifi. This library will be a tool for the kids to do their homework, that’s the main thing we want. This partnership is a happy marriage that will evolve and grow.”
At the ribbon cutting, MCISD School Board President Patty O’Caña also praised the new library, adding that it will improve the community as a whole.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how this is going to grow,” she said. “This is just the beginning, we need this library to be utilized. It’s not something that will help just the children, it will also help their parents by providing resources that may otherwise be difficult to receive for some. This is not an opportunity to take this library for granted.”